American-Architects Building of the Year 2016

1. February 2017
Sharon Fieldhouse by design/buildLAB (Photo: Jeff Goldberg/Esto)
The American-Architects Building of the Year 2016 is the Sharon Fieldhouse in Clifton Forge, Virginia, designed and constructed by the design/buildLAB at Virginia Tech School of Architecture + Design. The project received more than 15% of the thousands of votes cast by readers for their favorite Building of the Week featured on our US platform last year.
It is the second time that a design/buildLAB project has won the US Building of the Year: The Masonic Amphitheatre Project won in 2012. The two projects are part of an effort by husband-and-wife professors Marie and Keith Zawistowski, who founded the design/buildLAB to give their students experience in designing and constructing projects in areas of need. This is no surprise, given that the couple met at Auburn University’s famous Rural Studio while working on a charity house under architect Sambo Mockbee. The design/buildLAB's Virginia projects focused on Clifton Forge and other small towns, the last ones coming with the two-phase Little League Baseball and Softball complex for that town: the Sharon Fieldhouse and the adjacent Sharon Fields. Today Marie and Keith, principals of their own design-build firm, onSITE, are based in France, where they are carrying on the design/buildLAB tradition they started in Virginia.
Sharon Fieldhouse in foreground and Sharon Fields, second phase of the project, beyond (Photo: Jeff Goldberg/Esto)
As described in our Q&A with the Zawistowskis:

The Sharon Fieldhouse sits on a hillside defined by a series of terraced baseball fields. ... The building is fissured into three elements to allow the site’s circulation to weave its way in and around the occupied spaces. The entrance to the Fieldhouse is an arrangement of massive concrete steps, serving as a playful procession and an informal gathering space. ... Nested between the concession kitchen and the restrooms, a shade pavilion slips out of line, offering a cool repose overlooking the field. The openness of the screens allows breezes to pass through as well as views to the surrounding mountains. ... In the evening, points of white light emerge as a constellation on the oiled oak ceiling. In this rich natural landscape, transparent forms and subtle details imbue the architecture with a peaceful presence, a magical atmosphere for community gatherings.

Sharon Fieldhouse by design/buildLAB (Photo: Jeff Goldberg/Esto)
Sharon Fieldhouse by design/buildLAB (Photo: Jeff Goldberg/Esto)
Of course, credit for the Sharon Fieldhouse goes beyond Marie and Keith. The architecture students who designed and built the project are: Mitchell August, Forrest Bibeau, Ellie Burns, Chanel Carter-Harris, Barbara Dior, Mykayla Fernandes, Xiao Fu, Kellen McGinley, John Iaconis, Ryan Myers, Tom Powers, Nancy Redenius, Julia Vasquez, Molly Vaughan, and Landon Williams.

Congratulations to everyone involved with the Sharon Fieldhouse, the American-Architects Building of the Year 2016!
Student team at design/buildLAB for Sharon Fieldhouse

Runners-Up

First Runner Up
(13% of the votes)
GEMS World Academy Lower School in Chicago, Illinois, by bKL Architecture
GEMS World Academy Lower School by bKL Architecture (Photo: Darris Lee Harris Photography)
Second Runner Up
(7.3% of the votes)
Wild Center Wild Walk in Tupper Lake, New York, by Linearscape
Wild Center Wild Walk by Linearscape (Photo courtesy of Linearscape)
Third Runner Up
(6.9% of the votes)
Spring Street Salt Shed in New York City by Dattner Architects with WXY architecture + urban design
Spring Street Salt Shed by Dattner Architects with WXY architecture + urban design (Photo: Field Condition)

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